Evansville, IN (WEHT)– A Tri-State veteran got an early birthday present today. Virgil ‘Dan’ Wilhite got to fly in the World War II B-25 “Champaign Gal.”

“My dad helped them build these plants back in the 40s,” he said.

Wilhite served as a Marine in Vietnam and says being on the aircraft gave him an experience, he never thought was possible.

“You had the opportunity to crawl from the back to the front,” he said.

Wilhite says the plane flew about 200 miles an hour, 3500 feet above the ground.

“The plane is tilted like this and you can’t see out the window. You can’t see out the window because the machine guns are there” he said.

Seeing this helped Wilhite imagine what it may have been like for those fighting in World War II.

“It makes you appreciate what those guys had to go through back in the day, you know to drop the bombs,” he said.

Wilhite was the last one to goon the plane Saturday, and pilot Dave Shiffer said the time flew by.

“It was great, we got up and you (Wilhite) had a great time, smiles the whole time,” Shiffer said.

For come of those on the ground, like Wilhite’s wife, Joan, it brought tears to her eyes.

“It was so neat to see the first one sitting there, the one he was in ready to go. And then it just took off. It   that was so awesome to watch it,” she said.